There are times I question the value of online worlds like Facebook. On one hand Facebook is a very cool communications tool. I keep in touch with former coworkers, as I see them post updates as they celebrate the holidays with their friends and family. From time to time I have someone find me who I have not seen in many years, so I can reflect on just how old I am, and realize, damn I'm getting old.
But for all the cool things I can say about Facebook, the interaction of personal updates with friends and family is getting drowned out more and more by the Facebook memes with political and social agendas. If you want to talk about politics or religion, I am cool with that. But please, don't bombard me with thirty second solutions to all the problems of society. In the case of the social media memes, the battle back and forth comes down to one point that will decide everything. I could come up with many examples, here are just a few.
Meme #1: Gun Control
The cute cartoons and sound bites of statistics tell me if only we could better regulate guns, mass violence would go away because crazy people and assorted lunatics would not have access to the tools that kill us. I understand guns kill, and I understand the need to regulate them. I also was trained as a nuclear biological and chemical defense specialist in the military. I was amazed at all the ways someone could kill you if they really wanted.
One of the largest attacks of terror on American soil by a home grown terrorist was committed by Timothy McVeigh on April 19, 1995, who used a truck load of fertilizer at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The explosion killed 168 people and injured over 600 others.
One of the largest mass murders in modern human history was committed by Jim Jones by getting over 900 people to drink a fruit drink laced with cyanide. It has been called a mass suicide by some, but survivors have told the story of mind control and manipulation that lead to one of the greatest cult tragedies in modern history. The phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" to describe a person who follows someone mindlessly, without thinking about the consequences, comes from this tragedy known as the Jonestown Massacre in 1978. Just to set the record straight, it was actually the cheaper drink Flavor Aid that was laced with the cyanide poisoning and not Kool-Aid.
Timothy McVeigh and Jim Jones were sick and evil men. Should I try to better understand what caused these tragic events? Or should I focus on the tools they used to kill? I have not seen any social media memes on better control of fertilizer and Kool-Aid. I think I will create one.
So many social issues that deserve attention. Why are there so many crazy people that want to kill their neighbor? Are we spending enough resources on mental health issues? Are people turning to social and political cults because they have some void in their life that needs filled? These questions deserve more than thirty second sound bites, 140 character answers, and cute cartoon memes.
Meme #2: Minimum Wage
The argument here is that if only we could raise minimum wage to $15 per hour, that would have all the deserving Americans living in poverty raise their standard of living.
I know I will follow up more on this in the future, but this is another head scratch-er for me. When I was young I had many minimum wage jobs, but I was always looking at jobs that paid more than minimum wage and asked myself, what do I need to get a job like that. I improved my skills, I learned new things, I looked to do things that increased my value.
I learned from many small business owners the importance of supporting the local community, and supporting the businesses that supported my employer. I try really hard to shop local, and local to do business with local merchants first. Anyone that knows me will tell you I refuse to shop at Walmart. I will go out of my way to not shop there. Every week our ritual Saturday shopping trips starts with lunch at a locally owned restaurant.
There are many issues, and illusions, with raising minimum wage. Better education and training to make people more valuable as workers is one important issue. Supporting local businesses and working together as a community to keep the local economy more stable is another issue. There are so many potential problem areas here that go beyond raising minimum wage.
Simple answers don't solve complex problems
Has the internet, and television too for that matter, decreased our attention span to where all the answers need to be thirty seconds or less? I really wish all the problem in life were as simple as they seem to be on Facebook. They're not.
You think problems come down to single sentence answers? There's over 800 words in this post, and we have barely defined the issues. If one of these two issues, or perhaps something else motivates you, resist the temptation of simply liking some social media meme or re-posting it. If you really want to make America safe, or improve the economy, dig deeper and understand the issues beyond the social media memes.
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